Nigeria Insurance industry closed the performance sheet of the 2019 on high success points spread through the year and into the first quarter of 2020.
Counting from the rallying performance – industry response to covid-19 pandemic; the insurance market moved like the flow of human heads as first responders would do to the place where human attention was needed in a time of crisis. This mass reaction scene resonates with the immediate past NIA chairman, Mr Tope Smart, who captured the whole picture and said that the global concern posed a serious challenge to the Association and the entire Nigerian insurance industry.
Smart, who is the Group Managing Director at NEM Insurance Plc, said the virus had not only disrupted businesses, but also forced member companies to activate their business continuity strategies as they embraced remote working, “and we are happy that they have responded adequately to the challenges posed by the disease.”
He also noted the Association’s collaboration with other arms of the industry to provide life insurance cover for 5000 health workers and volunteers such as doctors, pharmacist, nurses and other ancillary personnel in the front line of the battle against Covid-19.
The scale of benefits under the scheme are; doctors – N3m, pharmacists and nurses N2m, ancillary personnel N1m. The association also donated N500m to the federal government as additional support in the fight against the pandemic. A brave act by risk bearing industry, an action put into motion by the regulator and endorsed by the insurance operators, mindful that they keep in custody policy holders premium and were within bounds to respond to national emergency.
The feat by the insurance industry earned them Presidential recognition. Smart aiming for the focal point, responded to Aso Rock first time thumb up and hurray for the insurance industry as “the highest level of recognition by any government” nothing that it was “a call to duty and a challenge to do more.”
As the industry looks forward to many more milestones, elated Smart aimed at the core of earned achievement and said: “Riding on the momentum created, we need to upscale over engagements with government so as to build on the goodwill presented by the presidential recognition.” he stated.
With enthusiasm, he reeled out the engagement with various stakeholders since the insurance industry recapitalisation exercise was announced May 2019 – these include the regulator – NAICOM, Nigeria Stock Exchange, Corporate Affairs Commission and Federal Inland Revenue Service, on the need to grant reliefs/palliatives to members during the exercise. He emphatically declared, “We are confident that these engagements will have positive outcomes.”
Another milestone was the Financial Act 2020, which laid to rest the prolonged battle to resolve the huge tax burden imposed on insurance companies by the Companies Income Tax Act 20007 (as amended).
He recognised the support received from ministry of finance budget and national planning, NAICOM and KPMG Professional Services “for bringing the vexed issue to a successful conclusion.”
He also recognised the granting of the hosting rights to the Nigeria insurance market for the 47th African Insurance Organisation, which was postponed from May 31st – July 3rd 2020 to October 3rd – 7th 2020. It was eventually postponed to 2021, to let the pandemic ease out.
Others include the on-going NIA house project, over which he relayed the main and sub-contractors assurance that despite the slight delay caused by the Covid-19 pandemic it would not significantly affect the expected delivery date.
The industry rebranding project, improved relationship with other regulators and improved relationship with other arms of the industry, would continue to be robust and mutually beneficial.
At the sub regional level, he said the industry has made remarkable strides with the ECOWAS Brown Card Scheme, West African Insurance Companies Association (WAICA). He also expressed confidence that the insurance market would continue to show leadership and be in the forefront driving initiatives aimed at developing the insurance market at the continental and sub-regional levels.